The Jumbo to and fro

War of words heats up as proposed resort decision nears

  • Dec. 1, 2014 3:00 p.m.

Carolyn Grant

As proponents and opponents alike await the word from the provincial Environmental Assessment Office as to whether construction on the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort has substantially started, neither side is backing away from commenting on the issue.

Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald, long a vocal opponent of Jumbo, has issued a press release stating that the state of construction of the Jumbo Glacier Resort continues to tell a story of “incompetence, sloppiness and amateurishness”.

“A few weeks ago, the public discovered that the BC Liberal government had allowed the proponent of Jumbo Glacier Resort to lay the foundation of their day lodge in a Class 4 avalanche path,” said Macdonald.  “Now we have discovered that not only is the day lodge foundation situated in a dangerous location, the day lodge has been placed outside the boundaries of the area established for the resort.”

However, Tom Oberti with Pheidias Project Management Corp. the project manager for Jumbo, refutes that claim.

“The Jumbo Glacier resort project has been under attack by special interest groups for a long time with a vast barrage of exaggerated and inaccurate claims,” Oberti said. “The report that the daylodge is in a Class 4 avalanche path is purely based on a media attack by representatives of the RK Heli-ski company based in Panorama. The daylodge is near but not on the run out of an existing avalanche track, as documented by the existing forest, and as checked by the experts. Peter Schaerer, the foremost avalanche expert in Canada, has reviewed the claims by RK Heli-Ski and stated:

“1. The daylodge is placed in an area that is outside the lateral boundary of past avalanches, and future larger avalanches will be prevented by explosive devices.

“2. The resort village is not within reach of avalanche run outs.”

Macdonald also questions whether the daylodge is even located within the boundaries of the land tenure. He cites a report by Cal Meiklejohn of Meiklejohn Architects for the Ktunaxa Nation Council, Meiklejohn stated that a review of the site plans and supporting documents indicated that the daylodge is not located within the boundaries of the Land Tenure that has been granted to Jumbo Glacier Resort.

“The report is incorrect because the Land Tenure that has been applied for is for unsurveyed land and aerial survey information, for which ground truthing was not possible because access had been removed,” said Oberti. “It is public policy of the Province to confirm the location of the buildings by survey after the foundations are laid. The daylodge is substantially in the land tenure applied for and the boundary is been defined by the survey done on an as built condition. This is normal practice for large tenures of unsurveyed crown land. The daylodge is located in a ski area tenure that is hundreds of times larger than the footprint of the land lease. This is why the precise final boundary of the land lease is done on an as built basis. The incompetence is actually on the side of those who accuse without informing themselves of facts and conditions.”

“This situation has now gone well beyond any reasonableness,” Macdonald said. “After 10 years with an Environmental Assessment Certificate, all Jumbo proponents have managed is hastily poured concrete, in an avalanche path, outside of the established tenure. We have the Ktunaxa clearly stating their opposition because of the sacredness of the site. And there is still no investor.

“After all of this, can Minister Polak possibly say yes to Jumbo? Will Bill Bennett’s continued interference and bullying tactics pressure the minister to make such a ridiculous decision?”

Asked for comment, Minister Bill Bennett replied, “I am too busy helping to create jobs to engage in the silly nonsense of the NDP.”

However, Oberti had this comment.

“The situation is beyond any reasonableness because the last efforts at intimidation are baseless and discriminatory relative to any other mountain resort in B.C. The opposition, now led again by the heli-ski company, is trying to block forever the best mountain resort project in North America, as proven to reviewers of all governments, including NDP governments that invited the proponent group and approved the project and granted an Interim Agreement and the fundamental land use decision. The last step appears to be the attempt to intimidate both government and investors.”

“It will be an absolute joke if the Minister looks at this fiasco and says yes,” said Macdonald. “It will also prove that our environmental assessment process is a disgrace.”

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